Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lost style: The traveling suit

I rarely see women 50+ in matched skirt suits, even in the canyons of the financial district. The Hillary pant suit, or blazer-and-pants (unmatched) prevails, a no-nonsense 'uniform' in the nether-world between business casual and formal.

But there is nothing as chic as a variation on the skirt suit- one that's all but lost, like the veiled hat- the
traveling suit.

Here's a 70s Dior version, a skirt and a 7/8 length coat.
This is what you wore for a train or plane trip, or a day shopping in the city. My mother wore hers with an alligator bag and matching shoes. Underneath, a dressmaker blouse or fine cashmere sweater.

An aside: those women knew a 3/4 from a 7/8 coat and cared.

You can occasionally find this ensemble in shops like Aquascutum, where the suit is really a raincoat with a matching skirt.

I hope to adopt this look when I'm truly elderly (and pine for one perfect traveling suit now). Certainly a more pleasing option than the track suit with windbreaker or puff parka worn with running shoes, the senior default outfit around here.

8 comments:

cybill said...

Oh I love that idea and I adore that suit. I'm going to start the hunt for one now, why wait until I'm older?

materfamilias said...

I think a gorgeous light coatdress, such as the one I saw in MaxMara yesterday at 50% off (but I can't wear beige) would fit the bill as well -- it was belted, had a swishy skirt (i.e. enough fabric to feel a bit sumptuous although not enough to get in the way), and would be perfect for elegant travel (altho' admittedly not quite as practical as your suit, which could be unbuttoned to reveal top and skirt underneath). Not much need for it in my current lifestyle, though, or for your suit, for that matter. Sigh.

Anjela said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anjela said...

Your entry reminded me of my own childhood and the beauty of fabrics and dressing up......Escada may have some modified version of this suit shown (sadly out of my range) My mother used to wear these beautiful pencil thin skirts and jackets (suits) and white organdy? sheer blouse with peter pan collars and covered buttons.

A beautiful strand of pearls. Elegance just hung in the air. The mystery of what we were- Like your mother, mine too would have the alligator bag and the shoes- or leather court shoes and Pringle cashmere twinsets.
We, as children, my two sisters and I wore matching grey skirts with tiny pleats but similar blouses to our mothers, ours in white cotton. Clarke's leather sandals and our hair all waved.

Duchesse said...

ma: Max Mara has the most consistently beautiful clothes. I wear things I bought a dozen years ago.
Anjela: Care-free fabrics killed this era, shameful, evil polyester.
Cybill: Shall we meet for lunch in our suits?

StyleSpy said...

Lovely. Yes, it's possible to look chic when one travels and still be comfortable. The bonus is that when you're dressed nicely (in my experience), the airline & airport staffs treat you with more kindness and respect, especially in international airports. I actually once had an elderly gentleman security worker compliment me before saying wistfully, "Women don't dress up anymore." It was very sweet.

Mardel said...

Love the suit as well as the idea of elegant travel. Well, truthfully, I love the idea of a little more elegance in day to day life, and would love something like that suit. I see no reason to wait, but at the same time look forward to the idea of being a well suited older lady far more than being a sweat-suited older lady.

greying pixie said...

I agree with all above comments - why wait until you're older, do it now! That has definitely become my mantra over the years.

I've just got back from a holiday in Rome where the local women are an inspiration to us all. They really ARE like fine wine, ageing so elegantly - lightly tanned, not too thin, little make-up, simple cool dresses, gorgeous real jewellery, simple sandals... utterly inspiring!

I LOVE the idea of a travelling suit. It is now my aim for next winter - thank you, duchesse.